102 Long Hall ~ Troy University
Troy, AL 36082 ~ 334.670.3281
Sound of the South




"SOTS" Search

A Brief History of the Sound of the South
by Ralph E. Ford & Michael A. Bird

The Troy University Band has been an intricate part of the university since 1939 when Lawrence Peterson was appointed the first director. A year later the marching band made its first public appearance during Homecoming festivities. Peterson held his position for seven years. In 1947 Gilbert Stephenson accepted the baton as the second director. The following year hosted many changes for the band including the first show complete with marching uniforms, the first guest appearance by Paul Yoder, and the first spring band festival all occurred in 1948. In 1953 the band received its third director, John P. Graham. Two years later, in 1955, James Patrenos was appointed as fourth director of the band. In 1960 Richard Melvin was selected as the fifth director. Students saw the beginning of summer band clinics in 1962. Carl Vollrath held the position of Interim Director from 1964-1965.

The band known today as the "Sound of the South" was founded in 1965 by the legendary Dr. John M. Long. In addition to building a nationally recognized band program, he also served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean of the School of Fine Arts and special assistant to Chancellor Dr. Ralph Adams. He was one of the first southern bandmasters to be elected as president of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In 1996, he was elected to the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors. It was during the thirty-two year tenure of Dr. Long that the band program at Troy University established a national reputation through its many featured appearances at music conventions, concert tours and recordings with the symphony band, as well as nationally televised appearances with the "Sound of the South" Marching Band.


In the winter of 1974, Dr. Long was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, a true testament to the quality of the TROY Band Program. It was 1975 when the band saw the planning and construction of the John M. Long Band Hall. The dedication ceremony was held during the Southeastern United States Concert Band Clinic in February, 1976. With Dr. Max Rafferty, Dean of the School of Education, serving as the master of ceremonies, the following dignitaries participated in the dedication service:

Col. George S. Howard, Conductor, United States Air Force Band, Hall of Fame Member

Dr. Paul Yoder, internationally-noted composer, TSU Distinguished Visiting Professor, Hall of Fame Member

Dr. William D. Revelli, Conductor, University of Michigan, TSU Distinguished Visiting Professor, Hall of Fame Member

Mr. Reddus Brooks, Montgomery, Alabama. Long-time friend and supporter of Dr. Long and the TSU Band program

Mr. Frank Butenschon, Director of Bands, Valdosta, GA. Long-time friend and supporter of Dr. Long and the TSU Band program

The director of the "Sound" was again recognized for excellence in 1977 by his induction into the Alabama Bandmasters Hall of Fame. The symphony band, in addition to numerous concert tours, was invited to perform at the American Bandmasters Association's national conventions of 1979 (hosted by Troy State University) and 1989. In 1982, the symphony band traveled to Nashville, TN to perform at the national convention of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA).

In 1996, Assistant Director of Bands and Music Arranger Ralph Ford served as the interim director of the marching band during Dr. John Long's last year as Director of Bands. In 1997, the baton was passed to popular band composer and TSU alumnus Robert W. Smith. Mr. Smith began his writing career in 1982 and has become an internationally recognized composer for Warner Brothers Publications. During his tenure, the band program continued exciting audiences everywhere with creative and innovative halftime productions presented at collegiate and professional football games, as well as an exhibition performance at the Bands of America in Orlando, Florida. Additionally, the "Sound of the South" performed with Grammy Award-winning artists Brian McKnight, Lee Greenwood and The Temptations. The band has been featured on the Warner Brothers Marching Band promotional CD's since 1997, which is distributed to over 38,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada.

In 1998, the Troy State University Board of Trustees and Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. named the Troy University School of Music the John M. Long School of Music. Dr. Long continues to serve the band program today as a distinguished professor of music and Director Emeritus.

July 2001, Ralph Ford begun his appointment as the Director of Bands of the "Sound of the South" Band Program.

Last Updated: 01/18/09
A-Z SOTS   |  Media Room   |   Trojan E-mail   |   IT Help